Top Italian short stories to unlock your vocabulary and listening
How to use Italian short stories as a learning tool
I will never stop singing the praises of reading in a foreign language. Using Italian short stories as a learning tool is one of the most brilliant learning ways if you are an Italian learner at all levels.
Why learning with short stories in Italian?
- The sentences of the stories are short and use simple vocabulary. Learning vocabulary in context or chucks will help you to learn how to build Italian sentences effortlessly.
- The short stories tend to implement the spaced repetition system. If you don’t know what it is about, I will tell you. It’s a popular system used by apps like Anki or Duuolingo: they present the exact words or sentences at regular, graduated scheduled intervals. This system helps your memory to retain the new vocabulary long term.
- They are easy Italian readings that you can integrate into small doses into your lifestyle. They are combined with vocabulary drills or grammar exercises at the end of each book.
- It is a fantastic tool to transform passive vocabulary into active one. Frequently, we can’t recall the inputs we receive, but they are not entirely forgotten. All you need is a little help through active reading (or listening) to remember those words that you have learned previously. I guarantee that reading (which is often underrated) does wonder when learning a foreign language
How to make the most out of your Italian short stories and learn efficiently
- Choose a suitable book to your actual level. Before you buy it, you may read a sample chapter of the book. Your ideal level should be neither too easy nor too difficult, ideally, slightly above your level.
- Please read the book at least twice and rehearse it regularly.
- Make a short written summary by using the new relevant words, reread your summaries.
- Discuss the Italian short stories with your tutor or coach
- Readout aloud the stories.
- Make sure you spend time reviewing your stories in Italian. Our memory has a downward curve. Our brain won’t o retain much of the input we receive. To overcome the forgetting curve and cement the information we want to remember, we need to review.
- Plan once or twice a month to review your notes or go over your Italian short stories again.
The Alma Edizioni Italian short stories series
The Alma Edizioni Italian short stories are the best. I use the stories in all my courses (from the beginners to the upper intermediate ones). They are fresh, not too long, use the spaced repetition system, and include drills at each section’s end. Alma’s books also have a digital and interactive version that you can buy on BlinkLearning.
Some of the best Alma’s short stories in Italian for beginners (including audio and vocabulary drills)
Italian uncovered is a short story-based self-paced video course for false beginners (those who have already dubbed Italian for a while) who need a more strategic approach to Italian learning.
The video course comprises 20 chapter stories in simple Italian and includes everything beginners Italian learners need to know to navigate from a beginner to an intermediate level. This is a proven practical course for those who need to learn at their own pace.
My two cents: make sure to break your Italian study down into short but consistent bites. In short, it’s proved that the most efficient way to study is a 20-30 minute everyday or every second, instead of committing to long and sporadic study sessions.
The CIDEB Italian short stories collection
Another great series of short stories is the one published by CIDEB. These short stories are ideal for lower-intermediate to upper-intermediate students as they typically use various intermediate grammar structures and idioms. They also have an excellent exercise section based on each chapter’s vocabulary or specific grammar topics. These are my favorite short stories by CIDEB so far (suitable for lower-intermediate and intermediate Italian learners)
The fable cottage project
This is a brilliant project, especially for the little ones. The Fable Cottage is a collection of the most popular stories of all time. The short stories are presented both in Italian and English and include an audio track.
Pensierini Blog and book
Pensieri is a beautiful project launched by a fellow Italian teacher and writer – Ugo Copparo. Through the pensierini blog, you can read inspiring short stories in Italian and short essays written by Italian students in a foreign language, just like you. If you want to support the project, you can also buy the printed collection of pensierini. Ugo edited all the texts without altering the authentic voice of the writers. This collection is great because the essays are bite-sized and not too complicated. Ideal for beginners and intermediate students of Italian.
The Penguin Italian short stories book
Another excellent book is the Penguin book of Italian short stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri, especially if you are a fan of Italian literature and culture.
This book is a collection of 40 powerful Italian voices (poets, musicians, writers, journalists, politicians) representing Italian society. This book is suitable for intermediate and advanced students of Italian.